Year of the Rat

Ah Lian, at the line
Originally uploaded by V'ron
Somebody help me, please. I'm a rat. I'm a Metal Rat, as a matter of fact. And in the Chinese Zodiac, this is my year. But I've got that damn Al Stewart late 70s hit going in my head.... but in many other ways, I think this is gonna be my year.

Anyway, long packed weekend. I'll go in reverse chrono order, because that's what's fresh in my head. I ended up last night sharing some beers with Marlavous Marla, watching video of her triumphant run at this gorgeous theatre in Sheboygan with Mark Shurilla and the greatest hits. They have a similar gig in Oshkosh coming up and Dan "Mylz" Mullen says the theatre there is equally gorgeous.

Ah Lian! We were just two of a bazillion people on the planet watching the Yi-Yao matchup, and while Yi is less experienced that Yao, he held his own against him. Neither were blowing us away -- despite last night being a sort of unofficial Asian Night at the Bradley center, the star of the game was Bogut, who's really stepping it up on defense. It was more of a Yao-Bogut matchup. And the Bucks were making it a game, well, at least until the middle of the 4th quarter. In fact, something we haven't seen for awhile, there was a point in the 4Q when the Bucks were actually leading. I went to take a bathroom break, and come back to find the Bucks down by 10. What, was I supposed to just sit and let my bladder explode?

Nevertheless, the Bradley Center pulled out all the stops to welcome the billion Chinese both physically and virtually there for the big showdown. Halftime entertainment was huge Tae Kwon Do demonstration, with musical selections including the theme from that part in Kill Bill where O-Ren Ishii and her posse arrive at the House of Blue Leaves. Of course. It wasn't hard to find a sign in Chinese showing support; here's one that was right behind us. Even T-Shirt Guy was in the act with his shirt in Chinese.
Anthem tonight was from the Brown Deer High School Choir. Good start, but they faltered on "and the rockets..." The hit "red glare" fine, but the "and the rockets" was awful. Seemed like they lost their moxie after that -- hitting some clunkers all through the rest of the song. They made up for it by hitting "laaaaand of the free" well enough, but ah, not one of the better high school choirs I've heard rendering the anthem. I'd give them a 6 out of 10 -- but points for reflecting the way the game was going to go -- good about 3/4s of the way through and then slow disaster at the end, capped off by at least not making it a disaster. I need to give points though to the genius at Harley Davidson who thought it would be a good idea to rev up a hog ("the HD Rev-Up" at the beginning of the game on international television, as if to say, "Hey China! OK, so we don't exactly have the best hoops team out there, but we make some serious bikes here. Vroooom!" The fumes lasted until the first timeout. Get used to this smell, people. The 105th Anniversary is this summer, so break in your ears and lungs.

One nice thing to see: there's an Energee girl who can throw! We actually almost caught one of the souvenier balls she chucked into the crowd. She didn't mess around. She looked like she pitches for some fast pitch team or something. We got one of the wimpy girls later, but this made me feel good about tonight, despite the knob who sat down the row from us insisting he had to lean forward the whole freaking night, which forced us to do the same if we wanted to see anything (even after we asked him nicely if he would sit back now and again.)

1956 guitar and drums
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Friday night, I stopped into the Cactus Club to check out 1956, a power trio I've heard about from various sources, from Flickrite Czelticgirl, to Brian mentioning that enough people have told him we'd like them. Journal Sentinel says a mix of Helmet/Queens of the Stone Age -- I'll agree, except I'll throw in a good dash of some dissonant chords underneath melodic vocals. Lead singer Jason Reiman has a voice somewhere in Orange Juice's Edwyn Collins, but he's way more American about it and therefore (nicely) rougher around the edges as opposed to Collins' creamyness. Bassist Trey Butero seems to provide unabashed energy for this band, jumping all over his part of the stage and providing enough visual stimuli to keep a photographer busy all night. Racine native Mike Mattner seems to have the drums under control, which is a trick with this band as they have starts, stops, and challenging rhythmic structures that flow nicely, meaning they don't sound as syncopated (and therefore difficult) as they are. Touch of Radiohead in the delivery -- but much better stage presence. That's not to say there was a lot of banter -- they put all their personality and presence into their music, and that was good. Occassionally they brought in this female singer who added just the right amount of upper register -- they used her sparingly but effectively. All in all, ultimately satisfying, and worthy of their hype, and a "Brian, you indeed will like these guys" list.

Super duper full disclosure here: I just got this new job. I gave notice at my old job just the day before. And Reimer is one of the people I interviewed with to get the new job. So you, dear reader, now know that either a) 1956 kicks major ass or b), Heinously, I am one major suck up. Honest to god, it's A. If I didn't think they were any good anyway, I would simply have just "forgotten" to write a review or something. But equally honestly, I walked into the Cactus thinking, Oh my. New day job colleague. Please let them rock. Please let them be really good so I don't have to figure out how the hell I'm going to write about them and still show my face on my first day of work at the new job. Please God, please, let them bring the rock. Oh, thank whatever I'm calling the deity this week (let's call him "Bob" for now) they actually did.
And so did openers Brief Candles. They are unabashedly, unapolegitically (if their myspace page isn't ironic) a shoegazer band, but as I described to lead singer and guitarist Jen Bonigan my take on them as "Joy Division with some balls," she laughed in agreement. They aren't shreddmeisters, but they make plenty of interesting noises come out of their instruments, and establish good core chord progressions and build from there. Give them about 2-3 songs to kick in -- they had some technical difficulties when they first hit the stage and that may have thrown them off a bit. Plus, I'm not sure who to blame this on, but I coulnd't hear Bonigan's vocals for skeet. Same mike was used for 1956, and I heard Reimer fine. Maybe it was a dead connection during their set, or maybe Bonigan's voice needed to project more. Either way, when I head it on their myspace page, mixed up like it should be, it was a 4AD kind of voice that would sound right sitting in with the Cocteau Twins -- but again, it's fronting a band with much more balls. I don't normally go for the shoegazer stage presence (because there IS no stage presence), but the music -- which actually had bits of Hawkwind-ish space rock there -- drew me in. Put them on a bill with F/i!
Spotted in the crowd: Joey from the Barrettes, who are taking a few months off. Not to be lazy though: Joey reports that drummer Joolz is having hand surgery -- on both hands. Poor woman was in pain when she'd play, and she's having surgery one hand at a time, which is why it will be four months until we hear from the fabulous Barrettes again instead of two. Nevertheless, Joey said of course she'll be spending the time penning new tunes.

Thursday night, (after i gave notice at work, woo, that was something to do after 10 years) I went to another one of Melanie Beres' Speed Networking events, driving through treacherous snow. Met lots of great women, and Melanie also provided entertainment: first a dance troupe called the Remix Dance Company who took hip hop a step further and combined it with an almost Bob Fosse flavored thing. It was a masquerede themed night and the Remixers took that one all the way. Good mix of oldschool Broadway dance with funky hip hop yanno what i'm sayin' sassyness. After that, we got treated to a few tunes from K C Williams one of the few African-Americans working the Country Western genre. He has the sweet voice that goes with a guy in country, and I don't like nu-country, but there was something appealing about his delivery that brought me in. He had that jokey country delivery that the best country guys have and made me forget the ridiculous snow, but I can't help but wonder if racism amongst the target market is keeping him from really hitting the monster big time. I've heard him do the anthem at Bucks games -- this guy can sing and he can handle an audience comfortably and easily.

So now it's the super bowl. Do I really care? Does anybody? The "first ad" didn't even blow me away. Then again, maybe it's just not the Packers' year. It's mine. Sing along with Al Stewart!!


czeltic girl said…
Yes, indeed, the coworker's band does rock. 1956 = teh good. Glad you liked them.

I was bummed I couldn't make it to Friday's show. It was in the plans, but then a Friday night wake/Saturday morning funeral came along, and suddenly a late night out at the pub wasn't such a good idea. A depressing start to the weekend on all fronts.

But the weekend improved and it sounds like you had a pretty good one yourself.

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